Thursday, September 15, 2011

The problem with this town...all the damn Vampires!

Grandpops classic final line from "The Lost Boys",  a genuinely cool Vampire movie (despite the Corey bros)with young, cool Kiefer Sutherland (who worked the mullet!) and a studly Jason Patrick before hair loss got to him. This movie was a hit long before vamps became our new goth/pop du'jour.  I think that every 10-15 years or so some new stylistic approach hooks the younger generation on the classic creatures and brings them back to the front of the entertainment fold.  The Ann Rice vampire novels were popular in the 80's and 90's and led up the Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise movie most people probably know the story by and, very safe to say, inspired the current crop of vamp writers and show runners.

We now have the new YA vampire/supernatural book trend that has led to equally successful movies and TV shows.  My wife is hooked on True Blood which is almost a guarantee that the show will go off the air, especially now that they've killed half the cast. Always happens to her shows. The prime time  vamp TV show I've never noticed and, to be honest, I'm surprised we haven't had more thrown together vampire movies and shows featuring young, cool blood suckers.  

Now instead of Lestat and Louis (who was a "good vampire" but ultimately accepts his new, dark nature) we have "progressive" vampires. They ask before they drink from you or, having retained their morality and humanity, skip feeding from people all together and reserve their appetites for animals. They can go out in the sunlight and only twinkle and they have evening jobs in southern dinners to pay the bills vice pilfering the wealth of their victims. Awfully moral of them. Good upright citizens.

That's why Lost Boys and Ann Rice are so relevant now I think. They were, to my knowledge the first vampire stories where there were "good vampires" instead of the age old tale of men fighting monsters far out of their weight class. This was repeated, very well I thought, in "30 days of Night" where Ethan Hawke infects himself to gain their powers as the only means to fight the towns undead attackers.  

As for our current trend credit can clearly go to Stephanie Meyers. God bless her for her meteoric success but honestly, I'm not that well read on her.  My Tyler Lautner obsessed daughter has all the Twilight books and, again, honestly, I haven't been able to get through the first one.  So far they're just not what I'm used to reading hundreds of pages of.  There has to be something there though so I'll give them another shot I guess.

So we have a new generation of consumers eating up a new style of vamp. I'm sure a lot of purist's don't care for the new breed and my own personal jury is still out.  Maybe I'm just used to the traditional tales, which may, from a point of view, just make me an old fart.

Whose your favorite Vampire character?

Friday, September 9, 2011

In Memorium; L. A. Banks; I'm glad I knew you when.

Fast busy summer but I got caught up on a lot of blog reading (and managed to get some good writing done) while I've been gone; read up on the likes of the current Kindle Gods, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler and others, and the success they've had reaching readers through e-publishing.  Very inspirational stuff.

Sad news came from this as well. I learned from Joe Konrath's blog that one of my friends from Temple film school, Leslie Esdaile Banks had passed away this August after a long battle with an illness.  I've been typing and revising this post since then. I was never lifelong, best friends with Leslie but I considered her a good friend during film school and to know that she's gone now is hard for me on a few different levels.  But as she would say: "Stop making excuses and get it done."

I met her as a grad student/adjunct supervising my workshop for Intro to Comm, for my very first Temple film class back in 1996.  The film department was abuzz over her recent publishing debut: Sundance, a romance with a supernatural twist.  After I learned this we had many conversations about writing and publishing.  Almost ten years before the YA genre launching success of the first Twilight novel, Leslie envisioned romantic themed stories involving young, hip and sexy vampires, spirits and other supernatural characters.  Remembering her vivid descriptions of her story ideas then, while I now scroll through her many works listed on Amazon, is surreal to say the least.  She never attained the meteoric success of Stephanie Meyers and others like her but I'll always feel that she deserved to.  She was that far ahead of the trend.

As one of the "chosen few" published authors (and the only one I personally knew at the time) I picked her brain on publishing for hours and was amazed upon hearing some of the realities of the business after having already read countless how to get published books.  I asked about her book tour during the summer which she had mentioned during class. "How great was it being given the 'treatment' by a publisher?" She would laugh and detail how she mapped out, coordinated and paid for her own marketing tour which included bookstores, libraries and other venues.  The noted standout where she said she often received the best reception: hair salon's and beauty shops where her core market, African American females, visited.  They were the last places I thought anyone would ever go to market a book but she always stressed that: "Wherever your audience is, you go."

She was so busy as a grad student, teaching,  making her own films and as a mom and community figure.   I'd ask "How do you find time to write?" I complained about never being able to write outside of my script assignments and papers.  She would laugh again and say that "Any excuse for not writing is just that, an excuse."  Leslie told me about an interview she read on John Grisham and how he got started writing.  He was working "crazy lawyer hours" with a new family to boot.  He did however have a half hour train commute to work,  full hour a day total, alone with his laptop.  That's when he wrote "Time to Kill." 

However Leslie managed her time her results are astounding and examplary, completing over 40 quality novels since her first in 1996.  If that prolific pace were to have continued to an older age she could have caught up to the likes of Nora Roberts and maybe even gotten close to Asimov. Simply amazing.

All in all she was remarkable. She was a vivacious and passionate artist and I'll always be inspired not only by her creativity but by her persistence and work ethic.  I'll always regret not staying in contact with her the last several years and I wish her family and close friends the best.

You can learn more about her her.

Not getting any younger here, and thinking about Leslie, so back to getting some writing done.

Good times, Dave